On concept visions

Design Strategy: Leveraging a Concept Vision to Inform Strategic Direction

I think this article is a particularly good read since it's a large part of what I do at Insight! After several years of following this method through discovery research and early ideation, I’ve worked with our design and research teams to codify the process of creating concept visions as a tool for creating clarity in complex spaces. As the article explains,

“A Strategic Concept Vision integrates our research, design and engineering capabilities to help our clients and their customers see, evaluate, and build upon a prospective future. Simultaneously, we’re weighing critical business and technical factors to help determine overall viability.

The vision is born out of needs-based opportunities identified and informed by our design research or internally by our client. Discovery research is meant to both uncover user-driven opportunities and better understand the current or prospective context of use. Context of use could range from a NICU during feeding time to a microbiology lab receiving samples. This research will help communicate future scenarios that are both informed and relatable.”

On inspiration

Someone asked me not too long ago where I get ideas from. As I was trying to explain this intangible thing, the beginning of the creative process, I realized that it perhaps isn't that mysterious after all. Ideas come from inspiration. And I find inspiration in three ways: stubbornly, consciously, and subconsciously. 

1. Stubbornly: Honestly, sometimes I don't have ideas. One of the most intimidating things is receiving a creative brief and not knowing where to start. It is an indisputable fact that the hardest part of anything is starting, and all the more so when you're drawing a blank. But sometimes the simple act of putting pen to paper is enough, because seeing just one line will give you an idea of how to proceed with another line, and so on. Making really does make ideas.

2. Consciously: Of course, designers don't work in a vacuum. I spend a significant amount of time perusing the Internet, learning about other designers, and curating an image library (although I know Pinterest is popular for this purpose, I'm a big fan of Tumblr). I also keep a so-called junk drawer for physical artifacts. I habitually file all of these things away physically, digitally, and mentally, to save them for later. Although I'm fully aware that it looks like a frivolous use of my time, this careful collecting and tagging, it has consistently paid off - sometimes in the most surprising ways.

3. Subconsciously: But sometimes you just need to walk away for a minute. No amount of staring at the paper or screen will produce the spark you need. Turn your brain off and let it percolate, then come back with fresh eyes.

On writing

The Internet is certainly not lacking in think pieces, I know that. Still, I've decided to make more of an effort to write because, as James Greig notes, writing makes ideas better. Although I do occasionally collect my thoughts in little notes here and there, I think it's time to pay a little more attention to them. If you'd like to read along, then welcome! If not, have fun out there.